File this story under “Travel Digital Marketing Done Wrong.”
AirportParkingReservations.com, a travel company based in Suffield, Conn., sent out a promotional email riffing off an unlucky man’s death.
After a 55-year old man was found dead in a parking lot at Chicago O’Hare Airport — for as-yet-undetermined reasons — AirportParkingReservations.com sent out an e-mail blast mentioning the death. It offered a $5 discount off of future bookings, too. The message said:
“There could be many reasons for the the cause of this man’s death, but based on the story one possible reason could be stress. The process of arriving to the airport, getting through security, and boarding the plane can be very stressful.”
“Many airlines and travel industries have implemented technology to make traveling easier, such as through buying airfare online, booking hotels and renting cars, and even reserving off-airport parking through an app.
Don’t be late and end up in a crate. Save stress and possibly anything worse by utilizing technology and reserving all your travel needs in advance.”
Think about the person who came up with “Don’t be late and end up in a crate.” You can imagine them smirking, as they say to themselves, “Hey, that’s a really good line.”
To its credit, today the company issued an apology:
On behalf of AirportParkingReservations.com and ParkSleepFly.com, we cannot emphasize how apologetic we are about the marketing email that went out on September 22, 2014. It was an extremely poor choice and a mistake that leaves us all in remorse.
There is no good explanation to how and why we made the decision to create such a tasteless marketing email. It was clearly a poor choice on our end and we never had the intention to hurt or disrespect anyone.
From the bottom of our hearts, we sincerely apologize for all the anger and emotional distress we have caused to the family of the deceased, the public, and our customers.
Racy marketing seems to work for Spirit Airlines, which most recently skirted the line of what’s tasteful with a sassy e-mail blast riffing off the leaking of naked photos of celebrities (to tout its “Bare Fares”).
Spirit seems to know how to skirt the line without becoming truly offensive to a mainstream audience. For example, its marketers don’t find some unlucky guy’s death to be funny. They don’t even think of it as a good excuse to send out a $5 coupon.
For more details on how AirportParkingReservations has handled the social media storm over the message, see Mediaite.